In this post we’ll look at some Don’t’s and some Do’s for the best way to handle Long List Selections in a Native Android App. Material is very vague on this but if you go to the phone either Pixel or other phones like Samsung S8, you’ll see a pretty strong pattern established on how best to handle this to keep the user experience the best and to keep your user focused on the task they want to complete fast and get back to the next step.
The Wrong Way
First let’s look at Material Design website and what they say. If you only look at the website, you’ll think you can do more web stuff in a native app such as autocomplete dropdown menus (aka typeaheads) or, dropdown menus with a long list that the user scrolls through. But if you go to the phone and look, you’ll see this isn’t really used for longer list that contain more than 6-10 items. There’s a better way on small glass to do this. (Reference Link)
The Right Way
Next let’s look at Android OS native apps and how they handle long list and what the established pattern is for users on this platform are. It’s a mix of Search and List. The user click on (touches) a tile and go to a new page that has a list of items to scroll through, for example countries or states. They can either search (autocomplete) reducing the number of items shown to narrow their selection or just scroll and click on the item they want. This then returns them to the previous screen showing the item selected inside the tile. They can always click on it at anytime to go back and forth, but now they are focused on their task. You can find this in Calendar, Gmail, and several other apps.